Rian Pandole in line for a double

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Mumbai, Oct 30 (UNI) City-lad Rian Pandole set himself up for a double crown after storming into the boys under-12 and under-10 finals, in the Vazirani All India Talent Series and Maharashtra State Ranking tennis tournament at the Vazirani National Sports Academy, Nerul, here today.

As the No 8 seed in the under-12 category, Rian rallied to an impressive 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over seventh seed Taha Kapadia of Andhra Pradesh in a one-and-a-half-hour semi-final.

Rian took a little longer to overcome the formidable Kapadia after dropping the opening set full of blemishes. But he found his rhythm in the second set and never looked back.

''I was erratic at the start. Taha hit a lot of winners and managed to take the first set. But he tired in the second set, while I recovered and was more consistent,'' explained Rian after the match. ''An early lead in the third set gave me the edge and that's what turned the match in my favour.'' Earlier, Rian kicked off a rewarding day with a convincing 9-3 win over Pune lad and fourth seed Neil Lapalikar in the best-of-17 games boys' under-10 semi-finals. The second seed from Cathedral&John Connon High School, set up a title clash with No. 3 Aryan Goveas, who overcame arch-rvial and top-seed Nihar Bhatawdekar 9-2 in the other semi-final.

Rian's effort overshadowed boys under-12 sixth seed Karan Mehta's thrilling 7-5, 6-4 win over Kshitej Gupta in a semi-final that lasted 75 minutes.

After snatching a close opening set with a crucial break in the 11th game, Mehta surprisingly trailed 0-3 in the second set as Gupta kept his hopes alive and threatened to force the decider.

But Mehta ignored the huge deficit and initiated a brilliant recovery to win the next four games and surge to a 4-3 lead.

Mehta's remarkable comeback put Gupta under immense pressure and though he held his serve in the eighth game to draw level, the latter could not stop Mehta from taking a 5-4 lead in the next game, on serve. Brimming with confidence, Mehta broke Gupta in the crucial 10th game to seal an exciting win.

''I was aggressive at the start and was under no pressure except during crucial points, especially at 5-5 in the first set that was the turning point,'' said Mehta, who trains at Wodehouse Gymkhana.

''Kshitej was loose in the second set. He relaxed and I took advantage of that.'' ''I think Karan studied my game and took advantage. He got confident and I was under pressure especially after I squandered that 3-0 lead in the second set,'' reasoned Gupta.

Girls under-12 top seed Jinisha Patel set up a title clash with No 4 Mahrukh Kokni of Nashik, while girls under-10 top seed Ria Vardhan will face fourth seed Simran Kejriwal in the championship round.

Results: (All semi-finals): Talent Series: Boys U-12: 6-Karan Mehta (Mah) bt Kshitej Gupta (Mah) 7-5, 6-4; 8-Rian Pandole (Mah) bt 7-Taha Kapadia (AP) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Girls U-12: 1-Jinisha Patel (Mah) bt 7-Mihika Yadav 8-4; 4-Mahrukh Kokni (Nashik) bt 2-Yudem Shyodhi 8-3.

Maharashtra State Ranking: Boys U-10: 3-Aryan Goveas bt 1-Nihar Bhatawdekar 9-2; 2-Rian Pandole bt 4-Neil Lapalikar (Pune) 9-3.

Boys U-8: 1-Poojan Desai bt Praneet Kundale 6-3; 2-Udit Gupta bt 3-K. Chaitanya 6-2.

Girls U-10: 1-Ria Vardhan bt 3-Mihika Yadav 8-4; 4-Simran Kejriwal bt 2-Dakshita Patel 8-5.


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